Oscar-winning screenwriter and novelist Larry McMurtry has passed away. Known for penning books like Lonesome Dove and co-writing the hit movie Brokeback Mountain, McMurtry’s death was confirmed by his rep, Amanda Lundberg, though a cause hasn’t yet been revealed. He was 84 years old.
An acclaimed author, McMurtry has penned 29 novels along with three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than 30 screenplays. Always working on something, McMurtry wrote exactly five pages per day using a manual typewriter. A writer for more than six decades, McMurtry’s first published novel, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the 1963 movie Hud with Paul Newman and Patricia Neal. Based on the book, the screenplay was written by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. with the two earning a Best Screenplay nomination at the Academy Awards.
For his part, McMurtry was personally nominated for an Oscar for the 1971 movie The Last Picture Show. Based on McMurtry’s semi-autobiographical book, the movie is a coming of age story following two high school seniors in a small Texas town. It earned cast members Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson each Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards. McMurtry and screenplay co-writer Peter Bogdanovich were also nominated for Best Screenplay.
In 1989, McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove was adapted into a four-part miniseries by CBS. Starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, the series follows two Texas Rangers in the 1870s. It was a huge hit in the ratings at the time and garnered immense critical acclaim, winning seven of 18 total Emmy Award nominations. The miniseries would also win Golden Globes for Best Miniseries and Best Actor in a Miniseries for Duvall.
Later, McMurtry’s 1975 novel Terms of Endearment was adapted into a hit movie by writer-director James L. Brooks. Released in 1983, the movie starred Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, and John Lithgow. A tremendous hit both with critics and at the box office, the movie was another big hitter at awards season. Brooks took home wins for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay for the script based on the original McMurtry novel. Nicholson also won for Best Supporting Actor.
In response to the news of McMurtry’s passing, James L. Brooks tweeted: “Sitting here thinking of the greatness of Larry McMurtry. Among the best writers ever. I remember when he sent me on my way to adapt ‘Terms’ – his refusal to let me hold him in awe. And the fact that he was personally working the cash register of his rare book store as he did so.”
The 2005 romantic-drama movie Brokeback Mountain would also net McMurtry a long-awaited win at the Oscars. Co-written with longtime collaborator Diana Ossana, the Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal-led movie is based on an 11-page short story by Annie Proulx. Director Ang Lee won the Best Director Academy Award while McMurty and Ossana won Best Adapted Screenplay. Ledger was also up for Best Actor with Gyllenhaal nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
McMurtry’s work was also well-loved by his peers. World-famous author Stephen King tweeted: “Larry McMurtry was a great storyteller. I learned from him, which was important. I was entertained by him, which was ALL important. RIP, cowboy. Horseman, pass by.”
Author Don Winslow also tweeted: “No tweet can express or explain how much I loved Larry McMurtry’s writing. I’m really crushed by his passing. Rest in Power Larry McMurtry. Legend.”
Survivors of the late author and screenwriter include McMurtry’s second wife, Faye, with whom he’d been married since 2011, and his son, singer-songwriter James McMurtry. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Larry McMurtry. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.